Anthro & news

John Ford (John.Ford@JCU.EDU.AU)
Thu, 16 Jun 1994 10:16:15 +1000

Channel 7, Eyewitness News advertising billboard somewhere in New York;
The truth is, there's nothing on television more important, more
entertaining, more thrilling that the true human drama of the news.

The Q. is perhaps: who constructs the news? With what cultural baggage do
such persons impose their version of reality?

What difference is there between Channel 7 and anthropologists. I know we
would like to maintain the high moral ground. OK so we are reflexive -
Channel 7 is after $$$$. But Ch 7 sells because it simplifies the
complexities with which anthros revel in. The difficulty 1st year anthro
students face is the fact that there are no simplistic facts on which to
cling, memorise and regurgitate. The challenge with anthro is the
realisation that it is we who generally have to change.

Australia is selling the *interior* the *dead heart* of the continent
where tourists equipped with flashy 4 x 4s and electric-drive cameras can
still venture to the frontier and *capture* the *savage* and return to
*civilization*. I shudder as the year 2000 Olympic Games approach. But
who among the tourists who come expecting *entertainment* will wish to
grapple with Aborigines and land rights issues, with health problems,
with the homeless and drug additics. (It will interesting to see if
Aborigines appropriate the Olympic Games for their own purposes).

How can athro solve the *gap* in news? I don't believe we can. What we
have to offer does not sell too well in the capitalist market. OK so we
simplify it, package it, give it a fancy brand name - what then?
Maybury-Lewis tried as we saw what happened. It becomes another form of
entertainment competiting with rock shows, sit-coms and porno movies.

Keep chipping - I get depressed too - but then we are not in it for the
money are we?

Cheers John